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Neil Bantleman Trial: Second Alleged Child Sex Victim Testifies

01/06/2015 08:41 EST | Updated 03/08/2015 05:59 EDT
Free Neil Bantleman & Ferdi Tjiong/Facebook
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Another alleged child victim has testified at a trial for a Canadian teacher accused of sexually abusing three students at an international school in Indonesia.

The family of Neil Bantleman, who is from Burlington, Ont., said in an email to The Canadian Press that Tuesday's court session in Jakarta lasted for more than eight hours.

The child — referred to as "MAK" — gave testimony via teleconference for more than three hours, accompanied by his father, the email said.

Bantleman was arrested in July along with an Indonesian teaching assistant, and both are accused of sexually abusing three students at the Jakarta International School.

Both men have maintained their innocence and the school's principal and a number of fellow teachers also say the two are innocent.

The Canadian teacher's wife, Tracy Bantleman, says the child who testified on Tuesday was reportedly having difficulty re-telling events he previously told investigators.

"It seems the parents and investigators have made illogical interpretations of stories they have extracted from the children through repetitive and suggestive questioning," Tracy Bantleman said in the email.

"I believe the parents have made inaccurate judgments and baseless accusations. There has been zero evidence to support their claims," she said.

Bantleman's family has pointed out that Bantleman and the assistant, Ferdinand Tjiong, were only arrested after the parents of one of the alleged child victims failed in their efforts to reach a financial settlement with the school over alleged abuse by school janitors.

The janitors have been sentenced to up to eight years in prison following their separate but related trial. Their lawyers have called their verdicts unfair and have vowed to appeal.

Tracy Bantleman says testimony was also heard Tuesday from MAK's mother, who initially made claims her son was repeatedly raped by the school janitors in March 2014. She says the mother later changed her claims to include her husband and Tjiong.

She says video and photo evidence that was to be introduced by Bantleman's defence team shows the mother — referred to as "TPW" — leading her child and police through a late-night re-enactment of the alleged crimes, pointing to show the boy where to go and directing the police.

But Neil Bantleman's brother Guy Bantleman says that when the defence tried to show that evidence, the prosecution objected and the defence team was asked to wait until later in the trial.

As in previous sessions, Bantleman's family says more than 100 parents, students and school staff came to the South Jakarta Court on Tuesday. Canadian embassy officials were denied access to the courtroom, they say.

The prosecution has requested the school's principal appear as a witness during the next session on Thursday.

Both Bantleman and Tjiong could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Their trial is expected to last three months, a time during which Bantleman's family is urging Ottawa to publicly declare its support for the Ontario man.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version attributed information to Guy Bantleman that was from Tracy Bantleman.

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